Never Too Old To Start Bowhunting ~ By Taylor Wilson

My friend Chester Dixon took up bowhunting for deer last year at the age of 69.

And he started at the worst time of the year, as far as actually shooting a deer with a bow goes, or at least getting lots of opportunities to shoot at deer.

He began his quest for a deer (any deer) with a bow last year, late during the rifle season. The deer were wise to the game by that time, no doubt. He never got a shot or saw a deer.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I told him. “We’ll start hunting next year during the regular archery season, when the deer are not wise to the gun, and it will be easier to see a deer in bow range.”

So all last summer Dixon practiced. He built a range in his back yard.

To say he shot a lot is an understatement.

He shot two (2) 3-D deer targets in half. I have been bowhunting off and on for a long time, and I have never shot enough to wear out a 3-D deer target. I might have ruined one or two because I left them out in the elements too long, but never because I simply shot it too much.

Well Dixon did, and like I said, he did it to two of them. (Presently he is working on number 3.)

So, archery season arrived and we had stands placed in many spots. And the now 70-year-old arrow slinger was chomping at the bowhunting bit on opening day. But he saw nothing. He went again, and again, and again, all the while seeing nothing.

Others in our party saw plenty of deer and shot several.

We moved stands. We hunted different places. Some of them were very, very good, too.

“This is an excellent place to deer hunt—but I can’t prove it by you, but it really is,” I told him.

We blamed it on the weather, a hot autumn, a big mast crop, etc.

I told him that perhaps he needed to quit using “snoring” as a grunt call!

“Sure, it might sound good, but obviously, you are going into deep sleep and defeating the purpose,” I kidded him.

I also worked on pointing out deer to him to and fro our hunts.

“I am bound and determined you are going to SEE a deer today. Even if gasoline IS expensive, we going to ride and look at fields, just so I can show you one,” I teased.

My buddy took it all in stride. “Kiss my tail feathers, I’m not giving up,” he said.

A highlight of the early bowseason might have been when Dixon not only SAW a deer, but he also ALMOST got a shot.

“Boy, deer must have been running everywhere today, if Chester almost got a shot,” another friend of ours said and laughed.

Though, he finally saw a few more deer, such sightings were very minimal.

Dixon and I talked a lot about his sightings, or lack thereof.

“What’s wrong with me?” he asked one day in frustration.

“You smell funny—and that is to me and the deer,” I kidded.

Then he told me vividly what he planned to do if he ever did get a deer in bow range.

And man, was he a loose cannon…er…I mean bowhunter.

I wasn’t too worried about his mental state, however. But I did know for sure afterward that he had some ill intentions toward deer.

As bowseason wore on we asked if he wanted to hunt with a muzzleloader. We asked if he wanted to hunt with a rifle.

But Dixon continued head on, undeterred, with his bow-or-nothing attitude.

Then it happened, on opening weekend of modern firearm season in our neck of the Mid-South woods.

My son and I were hunting on a river bottom farm and my wife called to tell me that, “Mr. Chester had shot a deer and needed my help.”

“Are you sure? Do you mean Chester DIXON called and said he shot a deer,” I laughed.

My wife reassured me.

We were hunting on the same farm, and just across a big ditch as a matter of fact. I don’t know how Dixon didn’t hear us, what with all the noise, my little boy was making in our stand.

So we were able to get to him quickly.

The doe he shot had hardly run out of his sight before giving up the ghost.

Of course, there was much celebration all around. But there was also a very important lesson passed on to a smart-aleck middle-aged me from a determined and die-hard senior citizen.

That lesson?

Never, EVER, give up!

Copyright © 2006, Taylor Wilson. Any reproduction, copy, or use of this story without written consent from Taylor Wilson is strictly forbidden.